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Echo Park area council votes to not support LA's proposed gang injunction

Opponents of the city's proposed Echo Park area gang injunction cheer on the board Tuesday night as the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council votes to not support injunction.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC
Opponents of the city's proposed Echo Park area gang injunction cheer on the board Tuesday night as the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council votes to not support injunction.

The Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council voted Tuesday night to “not support” the city’s proposed gang injunction for the area.

The board will also send a letter to Los Angeles city officials, including the judge hearing the injunction case summarizing the board’s opposition. 

“Categorically rejecting this injunction as board I think would be a mistake, as with supporting it,” said neighborhood district representative Tad Yenawine. “I think it’s a complicated issue.”

RELATED: Echo Park area residents debate looming gang injunction

The Echo Park neighborhood council’s vote is a resolution stating their position. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council has not yet taken an official position on the gang injunction. They have a meeting scheduled for Sept. 4.

It was a full house Tuesday night, unusual for neighborhood council meetings — as noted by many of the board members.

Opponents with the Echo Park neighborhood group formed to fight the gang injunction filled the public comment rolls, as well as young people with the Youth Justice Coalition and some members of El Centro De Pueblo, a community organization in Echo Park.

Several asked the board to vote against the gang injunction. Echo Park resident Brent Armendinger told the board it would be ill-informed of them to support the injunction considering how many people showed up to speak. 

“[The injunction] makes things which are normally legal, illegal,” he said. “This is an issue of civil liberties. It’s a big deal.”

Deputy city attorneys gave a presentation on the basics of what a gang injunction is, how they are used by the L.A. Police Department and answered questions about the proposed injunction.

“Law enforcement does not go out and simply serve individuals because they believe they might be part of a gang,” said deputy city attorney Arturo Martinez. “There is a review process.” 

A judge last week gave the city attorney’s office permission to serve three gang members from each of the six gangs named on the proposed injunction with court summons orders. This is the city’s way of serving the gangs as a whole, using a civil court lawsuit.

Art Goldberg, a family law attorney, spoke against the gang injunction. He said that because gang injunctions are civil proceedings, individuals wanting to fight the injunction are not assigned an attorney if they cannot afford representation. 

“You do not have a right to an attorney if you are in this injunction or served with papers,” Goldberg said. “This is a civil proceeding, not a criminal one.”

Two representatives from the Westlake North Neighborhood Council, an area just north of MacArthur Lake, asked the board to support the gang injunction. The proposed gang injunction for the Echo Park area borders the Westlake North area.

Jennifer Virgen, the treasurer for the Westlake North Neighborhood Council, said their area has gang injunctions.

“It works,” she said. “And it’s kind of disappointing that it took the gang injunction to get you guys to come to this community meeting.”

After more than two hours of discussion with city attorney representatives, public comment and board comments, 15 members of the Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council voted to oppose the injunction, none voted against and three abstained.

The motion was to “not support the proposed gang injunction and to play an active role in developing positive solutions to problems in our community.” The vote also includes a motion to send a letter to the city attorney, councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Mitch O’Farrell, LAPD’s Northeast and Rampart divisions, Mayor Eric Garcetti and police chief Charlie Beck stating the neighborhood council’s position.

A spokesperson for L.A. City Councilmember Gil Cedillo said that he is in support of the gang injunction as proposed by the city attorney, which includes a proposed five-year automatic sunset period for individuals named on the gang injunction.

KPCC has reached out to Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and Mayor Eric Garcetti for comment on the proposed gang injunction. O'Farrell told FOX 11 news on Tuesday "the injunction is necessary because there are still plenty of active gang members who are causing physical harm to others as well as property damage."